American vs. British Musical Terms

The main difference in American/British music terminology is to do with notes and rests values. We find the American terminology a lot more intuitive and useful, as it simply describes the mathematical value of the notes/rests.
However, we believe every musician should know both, and that’s partly why this website uses British terms.

You’re likely to encounter both versions throughout your musical life, not only in books and resources but mainly in meeting and playing with other musicians.

Note Duration

Double whole note on staff

American: Double whole note
British: Breve

Whole note on staff

American: Whole note
British: Semibreve

half note on staff

American: Half note
British: Minim

Quarter note on staff

American: Quarter note
British: Crochet Rest

Eight note on staff

American: Eighth note (8th note)
British: Quaver

16th note on staff

American: Sixteenth note (16th note)
British: Semiquaver

32nd note on staff

American: Thirty-second Note (32nd note)
British: Demisemiquaver

64th note on staff

American: Sixty-fourth note (64th note)
British: Hemidemisemiquaver

128th note on staff

American: Hundred twenty-eighth note (128th note)
British: Quasihemidemisemiquaver

Note Duration Table

Double whole noteBreve
Whole noteSemibreve
Half noteMinim
Quarter noteCrochet
Eighth note (8th note)Quaver
Sixteenth note (16th note)Semiquaver
Thirty-second Note (32nd note)Demisemiquaver
Sixty-fourth note (64th note)Hemidemisemiquaver
Hundred twenty-eighth note (128th note)Quasihemidemisemiquaver

Rest Duration

Double whole note rest

American: Double whole rest
British: Breve rest

Whole note rest on staff

American: Whole note rest
British: Semibreve rest

Half note rest on staff

American: Half rest
British: Minim rest

Quarter note rest on staff

American: Quarter rest
British: Crochet rest

8th note rest on staff

American: Eighth Rest (8th rest)
British: Quaver rest

16th note rest on staff

American: Sixteenth Rest (16th rest)
British: Semiquaver rest

32nd note rest on staff

American: Thirty-second rest (32nd rest)
British: Demisemiquaver rest

64th note rest on staff

American: Sixty-fourth rest (64th rest)
British: Hemidemisemiquaver rest

128th note rest on staff

American: Hundred twenty-eighth rest (128th rest)
British: Quasihemidemisemiquaver rest

Rests Duration Table

Double whole restBreve rest
Whole restSemibreve rest
Half restMinim rest
Quarter restCrochet rest
Eighth restQuaver rest
Sixteenth restSemiquaver rest
Thirty-second restDemisemiquaver rest
Sixty-fourth restHemidemisemiquaver rest
Hundred twenty-eighth restQuasihemidemisemiquaver rest

General Terms

Whole stepTone
Half stepSemitone
Leading toneLeading note
Staves (also: Staffs)Staves
Grand StaffGreat Stave

Staves vs. Staffs

There’s some confusion over the plural form of Staff/Stave.
While both words generally have very different meanings, in a musical context it should be clear we’re referring to the same thing.

Our preference:

Singular: Staff
Plural: Staves